Saxon in 1958
August 5, 1935
|Occupation||Film, television actor|
John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico; August 5, 1935) is an American actor and martial artist who has worked on more than 200 projects during a span of 60 years. Saxon is known for his work in westerns and horror films, often playing police officers and detectives.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Saxon studied acting with Stella Adler before beginning his career as a contract playing for Universal Pictures, appearing in such films as Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Portrait in Black (1961). In the 1970s and 1980s, he would establish himself as a character actor, frequently portraying law enforcement officials in horror films such as Black Christmas (1974), Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
In addition to his roles in horror films, Saxon co-starred with Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly in 1973's martial arts film Enter the Dragon, and has supporting roles in the Westerns Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), as well as the adventure thriller Raid on Entebbe (1977). In the 1990s, Saxon occasionally appeared in films, with small roles in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk till Dawn (1996).
Saxon, an Italian American, was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Anna (née Protettore) and Antonio Orrico, a dock worker. He attended New Utrecht High School, graduating in 1953. He then studied acting with famous acting coach Stella Adler. He started making films in the mid-1950s, playing teenage roles. According to Robert Hofler's 2005 biography The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, agent Willson saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a detective magazine and immediately contacted the boy's family in Brooklyn. With parents' permission, the 17-year-old Orrico signed with Willson, and he was renamed John Saxon. He signed with Universal Studios in April 1954 at $150 a week. John Saxon is proficient in Judo and Shotokan Karate.
He was then given a good role in The Unguarded Moment (1956), playing a youth who seemingly stalks Esther Williams. In February 1956 Universal exercised their option on Saxon and he was paid $225 a week.
Saxon had the lead in a low budget teen film, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) which became an unexpected hit and established Saxon as a teen idol. Universal executives were pleased, and put Saxon in an "A film", This Happy Feeling (1958), directed by Blake Edwards, where Saxon romanced Debbie Reynolds in support of Curt Jurgens.
Public response was enthusiastic enough for Universal to reunite Saxon and Dee in The Restless Years (1958), a teen melodrama. He had a support role in a big budget Biblical drama about Simon Peter, The Big Fisherman (1959) for director Frank Borzage, starring Howard Keel. It was a box office disappointment.
Back at Universal, he remained in a supporting role, but it was a good one: Portrait in Black (1960), reunited with Dee, with Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn. He was essentially a juvenile delinquent cowboy in The Plunderers (1960), tormenting Jeff Chandler. He stayed in Westerns in Posse from Hell (1961) with Audie Murphy and guest stars on shows like General Electric Theater and The Dick Powell Theatre.
Saxon traveled to Italy to make Agostino (1962).
In 1966 he starred in Curtis Harrington's science fiction/horror classic Queen of Blood with Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper, then appeared opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966), winning a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of a Mexican bandit. Saxon recalls, "This was to me a terrific role and something I was ready for, but he [Brando] was despondent. He said he had lent a whole bunch of money to his father, and what he was saying to me was that his father ruined his life by losing all of his money. He was kind of bored in the picture."
He portrayed Marco Polo in episode 26 of The Time Tunnel ("Attack of the Barbarians"), originally airing March 10, 1967, and was a guest star on Bonanza in 1967 ("The Conquistadores"). In episode 19, season 5 of The Virginian ("The Modoc Kid") Saxon appeared in the title role alongside a young up and coming actor, appearing in one of his first speaking roles, Harrison Ford. And in 1969 he appeared in ("My Friend, My Enemy").
Saxon was in a sex comedy for Sam Katzman, For Singles Only (1968) and appeared in some Westerns, One Dollar Too Many (1968), Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972) (again playing a Mexican, this time a revolutionary named Luis Chama). I Kiss the Hand (1973) was a thriller made in Italy.
He spent three years as Dr. Theodore Stuart on the series The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969–1972).
Enter the Dragon
He appeared in 1973's Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's first starring role in a Hollywood feature. He was in action films: Mitchell (1974), The Swiss Conspiracy (1975), Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), Napoli violenta (1976), Mark Strikes Again (1976), A Special Cop in Action (1976), Cross Shot (1976), The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977).
In 1974 he appeared as the police chief Fuller in the Canadian production of Black Christmas; from 1974–76, he appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man, first as Major Frederick Sloan and then as Nedlick. This role also extended into The Bionic Woman. The actor's likeness was later used for the Kenner action-figure doll called 'Maskatron' which was based on the series.
In 1976, Saxon portrayed a homicidal vampire-like strangler in the Season Two Starsky & Hutch episode, 'Vampire.' Raid on Entebbe (1977) was a prestige TV movie. Moonshine County Express was a big hit for Roger Corman's New World Pictures; Saxon made another for that company, The Bees (1978). He appeared in a Bollywood movie, Shalimar (1978) then it was back to exploitation: Fast Company (1979), The Glove (1979).
Saxon played Hunt Sears, head of a breakfast cereal conglomerate, opposite Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the 1979, Oscar-nominated film The Electric Horseman.
He appeared in the 1982 TV movie Rooster, and appeared in the last week of the game show Whew! His extensive television credits include two years as Tony Cumson on Falcon Crest (1982, 1986–1988) as well as the recurring role of Rashid Ahmed on Dynasty (1982–1984).
Saxon has appeared in many Italian films, mainly in spaghetti western and police thriller genres. Titles from these genres include One Dollar Too Many (1968) and Napoli violenta (1976). He also was the second incarnation of Dylan Hunt from the Gene Roddenberry shows called Planet Earth and Strange New World.
He then appeared in Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982) as the writer hero's shifty agent; in Mitchell (1975) as the murderous union lawyer and prostitute provider Walter Deaney; in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) as Sador; in Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) where he played a Vietnam veteran tormented because his worthless pal bit him and years later, he is starting to get the urge to do the same; in Prisoners of the Lost Universe as an alternate-universe warlord, and in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as the heroine's (Nancy Thompson's) father. He reprised his role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) as he played himself in a dual role. He also made his directorial debut in 1987 with the horror film Zombie Death House, which starred Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa. He starred in Maximum Force (1992) as Captain Fuller and also appeared in From Dusk till Dawn (1996).
He was a special guest on the Creation Entertainment - Weekend of Horrors 2010 on 21 May in L.A.
|1954||It Should Happen to You||Boy Watching Argument in Park||Uncredited|
|1954||A Star Is Born||Movie Premiere Usher||Uncredited|
|1955||Running Wild||Vince Pomeroy|
|1956||The Unguarded Moment||Leonard Bennett|
|1956||Rock, Pretty Baby||Jimmy Daley|
|1957||Summer Love||Jimmy Daley|
|1958||This Happy Feeling||Bill Tremaine|
|1958||The Reluctant Debutante||David Parkson|
|1958||The Restless Years||Will Henderson|
|1959||Cry Tough||Miguel Antonio Enrico Francisco Estrada|
|1959||The Big Fisherman||Prince Voldi|
|1960||The Unforgiven||Johnny Portugal|
|1960||Portrait in Black||Blake Richards|
|1961||Posse from Hell||Seymour Kern|
|1962||War Hunt||Pvt. Raymond Endore|
|1962||Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation||Byron Grant|
|1963||The Girl Who Knew Too Much||Dr. Marcello Bassi|
|1963||The Cardinal||Benny Rampell|
|1964||The Cavern||Pvt. Joe Cramer|
|1965||The Ravagers||Capt. Kermit Dowling||Also known as: In the Philippines: Only the Brave Know Hell|
|1965||The Night Caller||Dr. Jack Costain|
|1966||Queen of Blood||Allan Brenner|
|1966||The Doomsday Flight||George Ducette||Television film|
|1967||Winchester '73||Dakin McAdam||Television film|
|1968||For Singles Only||Bret Hendley|
|1968||One Dollar Too Many||Clay Watson|
|1969||Death of a Gunfighter||Lou Trinidad|
|1971||Mr Kingstreet's War||Jim Kingstreet|
|1972||Joe Kidd||Luis Chama|
|1973||I Kiss the Hand||Gaspare Ardizzone|
|1973||Enter the Dragon||Roper|
|1974||Planet Earth||Dylan Hunt|
|1974||Black Christmas||Lt. Ken Fuller|
|1975||Metralleta 'Stein'||Mariano Beltrán|
|1976||The Swiss Conspiracy||Robert Hayes|
|1976||Strange Shadows in an Empty Room||Sgt. Ned Matthews|
|1976||Violent Naples||Francesco Capuano|
|1976||Mark Strikes Again||Inspector Altman|
|1976||A Special Cop in Action||Jean Albertelli|
|1976||Cross Shot||Commissioner Jacovella|
|1977||Raid on Entebbe||Gen. Benny Peled|
|1977||The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist||DiMaggio|
|1977||Moonshine County Express||J.B. Johnson|
|1977||Tre soldi e la donna di classe|
|1978||The Bees||John Norman|
|1979||Fast Company||Phil Adamson|
|1979||The Glove||Sam Kellog|
|1979||The Electric Horseman||Hunt Sears|
|1980||Beyond Evil||Larry Andrews|
|1980||Cannibal Apocalypse||Norman Hopper|
|1980||Battle Beyond the Stars||Sador|
|1980||Running Scared||Captain Munoz|
|1981||Blood Beach||Captain Pearson|
|1982||Wrong Is Right||Homer Hubbard|
|1982||Una di troppo||Sergio Puccini the notary|
|1982||Scorpion with Two Tails||Arthur Barnard|
|1983||Prisoners of the Lost Universe||Kleel|
|1983||The Big Score||Davis|
|1984||A Nightmare on Elm Street||Lt. Donald Thompson|
|1985||Fever Pitch||Sports editor|
|1986||Hands of Steel||Francis Turner|
|1987||A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors||Donald Thompson||credited as Special Appearance|
|1987||House Made of Dawn||Tosamah|
|1987||Death House||Colonel Gordon Burgess|
|1988||The Last Samurai|
|1989||My Mom's a Werewolf||Harry Thropen|
|1989||Criminal Act||Herb Tamplin|
|1990||The Final Alliance||Ghost|
|1990||Crossing the Line||Jack Kagan|
|1990||Blood Salvage||Clifford Evans|
|1991||The Arrival||Agent Mills|
|1992||Maximum Force||Captain Fuller|
|1993||The Baby Doll Murders||John Maglia|
|1993||No Escape No Return||James Mitchell|
|1993||Jonathan of the Bears||Fred Goodwin|
|1994||Beverly Hills Cop III||Orrin Sanderson|
|1994||Killing Obsession||Dr. Sachs|
|1994||Wes Craven's New Nightmare||Himself/Donald Thompson|
|1994||Frame-Up II: The Cover-Up||Charles Searage|
|1996||From Dusk till Dawn||FBI Agent Stanley Chase|
|1997||The Killers Within||Detective Lewis|
|1997||Lancelot: Guardian of Time||Wolvencroft|
|1998||The Party Crashers||Mr. Foster|
|1998||Joseph's Gift||Jacob Keller|
|1999||Criminal Minds||Antonio DiPaolo Jr.|
|2001||Final Payback||Police Chief George Moreno|
|2002||Outta Time||James Darabont|
|2003||The Road Home||Michael Curtis|
|2006||The Craving Heart||Richard Tom|
|2006||Trapped Ashes||Leo||Segment: "Stanley's Girlfriend"|
|2008||God's Ears||Lee Robinson|
|2009||War Wolves||Tony Ford|
|2009||The Mercy Man||Father McMurray|
|2015||The Extra||Victor Vallient|
- 1966: Gunsmoke Season 12, Episode 8 "The Whispering Tree" as Virgil Stanley
- 1967: The Time Tunnel Episode 26 "Attack of the Barbarians" as Marco Polo
- 1967: The Virginian Season 5, Episode 19 "The Modoc Kid" as Del Stetler
- 1967: Bonanza Season 8, Episode 19: "Black Friday" as Steve Friday
- 1967: Bonanza Season 9, Episode 3: "The Conquistadors" as Blas
- 1972: Kung Fu Episode: "The King of the Mountain" as the bounty hunter
- 1973: The Streets of San Francisco Episode: "A Collection of Eagles" as Vincent Hagopian
- 1973: Police Story Episode: "Death on Credit"
- 1974: The Mary Tyler Moore Show Season 5, Episode 8 "Menage-a-Phyllis" as Mike Tedesco
- 1974: The Six Million Dollar Man Season 1 Episode 4 "Day of the Robot as Major Fred Sloan
- 1975: Gunsmoke Season 20, Episode 14 "The Squaw" as Gristy Calhoun
- 1976: Starsky & Hutch Season 2, Episode 7, "Vampire", as Rene Nadasy/vampire
- 1976: Wonder Woman Season 1, Episode 5 "The Feminum Mystique Part 1" as Captain Radl
- 1976: Wonder Woman Season 1, Episode 6 "The Feminum Mystique Part 2" as Captain Radl
- 1976: The Rockford Files Season 2, Episode 16 "Portrait of Elizabeth" as Dave Delaroux
- 1976: Once an Eagle (miniseries) as Captain Townshend
- 1977: 79 Park Avenue (miniseries) as Harry Vito
- 1977: Quincy, M.E. Season 2, Episode 11 "Sullied Be Thy Name" as Charles Desskasa
- 1978: The Immigrants as Alan Brocker
- 1979: Hawaii Five-O Season 11, Episode 16 "The Bark and the Bite" as Harry Clive
- 1983: The A-Team Season 1, Episode 3 "Children of Jamestown" as Rev. Martin James 
- 1984: Dynasty (Rashid Ahmed, recurring character 1982–1984)
- 1984: Murder, She Wrote Episode: "Hooray for Homicide" as Jerry Lydecker
- 1988: Murder, She Wrote Episode: "A Very Good Year For Murder" as son Marco Gambini
- 1994: Murder, She Wrote Episode: "Proof in the Pudding" as Uncle Bernardo Bonelli
- Albert L. Ortega. "Hollywood Show 2014". Getty Images.
- Hopper, Hedda (September 1, 1957). "John Saxon's The Brooklyn Italian Type". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- "John Saxon Biography (1935-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Hofler, Robert (2005). The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1607-X.
- King, Susan (October 21, 2012). "John Saxon, Hollywood cool guy, remembers his 'Dragon' days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-01-23.
- "Contracts of Two Young Film Players Approved: Mutual Congratulations Mark Meeting of Rena Clark and John Saxon in Court". Los Angeles Times. 16 Feb 1956. p. A1.
- Inc, Active Interest Media (1 August 1973). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 3 January 2018 – via Google Books.
- Hopper, Hedda (1 Sep 1957). "Saxon Draws Diverse Roles: Diverse Characters Played by John Saxon". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
- Beck, Joan (4 July 1960). "John Saxon, Handsome, Moody Teen-Age Idol". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1.
- King, Susan (21 October 2012). "John Saxon, Hollywood cool guy, remembers his 'Dragon' days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- Alpert, Don (27 Mar 1966). "John Saxon—Teen Dreamboat on Calmer Seas". Los Angeles Times. p. b4.
- "Creation Weekend of Horrors - Get Your Tickets Before They're All Gone!". DreadCentral.
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